Neuropsychology and Marketing

Neuropsychology is the study of the relationship between brain function and behavior.  However, in this blog, we don’t just want to talk about neuropsychology, we want to experience it in real time.  So, before we dig into this blog topic, we want to see how you naturally react to four different videos.  Watch each video below, see how you feel, and then continue reading so we can dive into what these commercials were doing to your brain.

Now that you have watched these videos, how do you feel?  Would you describe it as warm and fuzzy?  We certainly would.

These commercials are all different in terms of products, year shown, content, and actors, but they all have one thing in common.  They are all appealing to our emotions with sublimal psychology and using natural functions in our brain to persuade us to like their brands.

How Your Brain Was Impacted

There are many biological factors that play a role in creating these warm and fuzzy feelings we all just experienced.  The two main ones we will focus on in this blog are mirror neurons and oxytocin.

Mirror Neurons

Neurons are special nerve cells that make up the brain and nervous system.  They are responsible for receiving and sending messages between the body and the brain.  Mirror neurons fire both when a person acts, and when the person observes the same action performed by another.  For example, when I lift my arm, mirror neurons in both my brain and your brain are firing.  When you repeat the same motion I did, the same neurons are firing in both brains.

Customers’ mirror neurons will fire and associate your brand with feelings of love and comfort, when they see forms of compassion like hugging, laughing, holding hands, etc. 


Oxytocin, also known as the “Cuddle Hormone” or the “Love Hormone” is both a hormone and a neurotransmitter (or chemical messenger).  Its main purposes are for maternal-infant bonding, empathy, and sympathy.  Oxytocin facilitates bonding among those who share similar characteristics.

Oxytocin can be produced with cute pictures and videos of babies, puppies, kittens, or anything that looks adorable and makes you want to give it a hug. 

So, when you watched those videos, your brain released oxytocin at the images of cute animals and kids, and your mirror neurons fired at familiar movements such as driving a car.  These two natural brain functions caused your body to experience the warm and fuzzy feeling associated with happiness, love, and now, that brand.

A Quick History of Why Appealing to Emotions Works

Before the Industrial Revolution, humans needed instant gratification for survival.  Since our brain takes close to 2000 years to evolve, our primitive brain is still prevalent.  This means that our emotional brain thinks first and reacts much faster than our rational brain. So, after the Industrial Revolution, now that a lot of consumer needs are at our finger tips, our emotional reactions to products and brands are often (not always) more important than logic.

How It All Comes Back to Marketing

Both mirror neurons and oxytocin can be used to a marketer’s advantage, if they know how to activate them.  (Luckily enough, now you do!)

Does this mean you need to start sending all your customers cat videos?  Well, let’s not go too far. This isn’t the end all be all of marketing strategies.  Nevertheless, it is good to know what is happening in your customers’ brains when you are designing graphics, videos, and other marketing collateral.  There may be places where you can take advantage of oxytocin and mirror neurons to promote your product using the natural reactions in your customers’ brains.

Cat videos aren’t going away anytime soon, but the reason why has to do with the intricacies of how our brain functions.  When planning out your marketing strategy, keep in mind the ways you can use heartwarming images and videos to create those warm and fuzzy feelings in your customers naturally by stimulating oxytocin and mirror neurons.  Just watch as these loving feelings lend to credibility and trust in your company, and then transform into intense brand loyalty.  After all, you have now formed a personal connection with your customers, or at least their brains, one that they aren’t likely to forget.

Want to learn more about how neuropsychology and oxytocin can level up your marketing game?  Check out the next blog in our neuropsychology series, Neuropsychology and Social Media!